Cheltenham Festival: Sherlock can sink his Neptune rivals

Irish “banker” Faugheen is a short-priced favourite for today’s Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham (1.30) but I am keen to take him on with Red Sherlock who looks worth a wager at 9/2 to put and end to his unbeaten record.

David Pipe’s gelding is also unbeaten, is progressing with every run, and has solid form in the book.

He won his first three bumpers in good style, including a listed contest over 2m 1f at this track, and has since taken to hurdling like a duck to water.

The five-year-old  two minor events at Southwell and Wetherby before stepping up into Grade 2 company and scoring over course and distance last time out.

He travelled well throughout that contest and found plenty when Tom Scudamore asked him to beat Willie Mullins’ Rathvinden by 2 1/2 lengths.

The pair pulled 29 lengths clear of the third, and although the runner-up is now 3lb better off I thought red Sherlock scored with more in hand thah the winning margin suggests and fully expect him to confirm the form.

He also has a solif profile for the race as far as the stats are concerned, and the fact he has won over CD is a major plus as we know he gets up the hill.

There is absolutely nothing not to like about him, and with Tom Scudmaore riding better than ever he has to be the selection.

So what about the favourite Faugheen?

Willie Mullins’ six-year-old is unbeaten in five runs, two in bumpers and three over hurdles, and hasn’t yet had to be asked a serious question in all of those successes.

He looks to have a huge engine but has only won in  Grade 3 company and is still far from fluent at his hurdles.

The horse he beat last time out by 5 lengths at Limerick in the Grade 3,  The Job Is Right, has been stuffed out of site and pulled up since and we don’t know what he will find if put under pressure.

It’s also worth remembering that 12 months ago, Mullins’ saddled a similar type in this contest in Pont Alexandre who was hyped beyond belief and backed into 6/4 favouritism before finishing only third to The New One.

That one had far stronger form in the book than Faugheen having won a Grade 1 and a Grade 2, and other Mullins’ horses to have won in the same grade as that one and get beat in this include So Young who was sent off the 2/1 favourite in the 2010 running and finished third to First Lieutenant.

To me that suggests that Faugheen, for all that he may turn out to be something special and a real superstar, is too short in the betting for what he has actually achieved.

Daily Sport recommended bet:3pts win Red Sherlock (9/2 generally available – use BOG firms)

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